Our Cannabis Public Relations Team

Our dedicated staff of Marijuana Communications Experts hail from various backgrounds that form a perfect constellation of skills for telling your story. We have lobbyists, activists, brand managers, non profit veterans, marketers, digital media experts, and more. Combined with our suite of proprietary databases, distribution channels, and scores of personal relationships with journalists forged over years of collaboration, there is no better firm representing members of the cannabis industry.

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Evan Nison, founder and owner. Evan Nison is the youngest member of the NORML Board of Directors and sits on the Board of Directors of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. He is the founder of the PR firm NisonCo, which connects leaders in the legal cannabis, medical marijuana, and hemp industries with influential journalists across the U.S. and world.

In 2010, while still a student, Evan took a semester off and moved to California to run the college outreach for the cannabis legalization ballot initiative Prop 19, which spanned over 40 actively managed schools state-wide. He was President of Ithaca Students for Sensible Drug Policy for 4 years, which under his leadership passed one of the first college policies in the country that equalized penalties for cannabis and alcohol on campus. He also received one of the pens used to sign the New York 911 Good Samaritan Law and New York medical marijuana law for his involvement in the passage of both bills.

During the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign Evan pressed Hillary Clinton for a firm answer on her support for legalization during a live town hall event on ABC’s Good Morning America.

More recently, as part of his mission to build socially driven businesses, he co-founded Whoopi & Maya, a women’s-focused cannabis brand with actress Whoopi Goldberg and fellow board member Rick Cusick. He then went on to co-found Emerald Farm Tours, a Northern California-based cannabis tour company to give the public a transparent hands-on view of the cannabis industry from seed to sale, and Bloody Good Vape & Smoke, a smoke shop in New Jersey he founded with a victim of cannabis prohibition who was held in jail for a year awaiting trial.Evan has been mentioned in news sources such as the NY Times, CNN, Politico, USA Today, NBC New York, Bloomberg TV, Forbes, and has been profiled in The Cannabist, Civilized, Ithaca Times, Home News Tribune, The Marijuana Times, and the Sun Times. He also received the 2011 NORML Student Activism Award and High Times Freedom Fighter Award for his advocacy.


Zane Bader, PR Account Manager. Zane joined the NisonCo team in 2017 and received a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Georgia. He has experience guiding public relations strategy for a wide variety of companies including MSOs, hemp-CBD brands, cannabis technology platforms, psychedelic medicine providers, and ancillary cannabis products. He has helped garner media coverage for clients in mainstream and high-tiered outlets including Bloomberg, Business Insider, Cheddar, CNN, Forbes, Refinery29, The Today Show, Yahoo Finance, and numerous cannabis trade publications.

He is also a co-founder and Board member of the Georgia Cannabis Trade Association and was previously the secretary for the Board of Directors at Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). He has extensive experience in drug policy reform, harm reduction, and peer-based drug education which has landed him panelist spots at numerous international drug policy reform conferences, including both SSDP and Drug Policy Alliance. Prior to joining NisonCo, he was a research assistant on the largest and longest comprehensive study on substance abuse treatment within the United States. He is located in Athens, Georgia.


Elana Cohen, PR Account Manager. Chicago born-and-bred Elana Cohen joined the NisonCo team in 2019. With extensive experience in the public relations industry, she has developed and executed numerous impactful corporate communication programs across a large variety of industries. She holds a B.A. in Public Relations from Hofstra University and has been working in the industry her whole career. The cannabis industry is an exciting career for Elana on many levels: it’s an opportunity to participate in making history, it’s working with the nation’s premier and largest medical marijuana healthcare and lifestyle companies and, most importantly, Elana thrives on her accomplishments in helping to communicate the benefits of cannabis.

Elana has made a personal commitment to be an instrumental and educational voice for cannabis patients, advocates, and industry players everywhere. Elana has worked with such Cannabis clients such as Mauricio Consalter MD: Cannabis Internist and Medical Cannabis Expert; Chef Manny Mendoza & Herbal Notes: Herbal Notes Infused Supper Club; Mazel Tov Farms; Green Oasis Dispensary in Oregon; and TCS Cannabis Consulting. She is a member of Women In PR, the local Chicago chapter of NORML, and The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, writing and crafting and playing with her puppies.


Kelly Ebbert, Content & Copywriter. Kelly joined NisonCo in 2019, and is a member of NisonCo’s PR and cannabis SEO teams. Kelly loves that her work allows her to research and write about topics she is invested in such as sustainability, cannabis, business and more. She has developed relationships with high-tiered mainstream outlets such as NY Post, Forbes, Fox Business, Bloomberg and AdWeek. Kelly is no stranger to the cannabis industry. Previously, she interned with 4Front Ventures as an advising intern. She also worked as a Phone Banking Lead with Regulate Rhode Island, where she made hundreds of calls to residents in support of cannabis legalization. Currently based in her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, she is focused on advocacy work, recently co-founding a youth-centered non-profit called Live to Love Project. When she’s not working, Kelly enjoys traveling, gardening and crafting.

Tori Gates, Director of Operations. Tori Gates has worked in nonprofit management and operations with a focus on drug policy and money in politics since 2009. While at Ithaca College studying Psychology and Marketing with a focus on cannabis start-ups and cannabis marketing, she was the president of the college’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter focusing on public education with programs like Just Say Know, Know Your Rights, and policy change campaigns to equalize the penalties for cannabis and alcohol in partnership with campus public safety and administration. After college she has worked on leading field and political operations for city and statewide money in politics, voting reform, and legalization ballot initiatives in South Dakota and Colorado. Tori began working for NisonCo in 2017 when she moved to Colorado from Massachusetts and uses her expertise to build cannabis email marketing campaigns, offer top-notch marijuana marketing strategy, and create successful systems for the fully remote team. When she’s not running operations and business development you’ll find her ripping down the ski slopes, hiking the wilderness, or enjoying the Rocky Mountain high.

Haley Giuliano, people ops. Haley Mandeville joined the NisonCo team in 2020, bringing with her a background in office management and administration. Her position involves Human Resources as well as Property Management, culminating in what can more easily be referred to as “PeopleOps”. She is a Connecticut native, but lived in Florida for two years during which one of the jobs she held was that of a correctional officer. The experience opened her eyes to issues within the prison system – like the number of inmates incarcerated for marijuana possession, despite prison staff shortages. After being disheartened from this experience, Haley moved back to Connecticut where she worked in security and later managed a psychological center. She received her BA in Integrated Studies from Brescia University and is currently pursuing her MBA through the same college. When Haley is not working, she’s spending time with her fiancé, Sebastian, and her dog, Emeree.

Tony Ham, Cannabis SEO Account Manager
Tony Ham, SEO Account Manager. Tony Ham started at NisonCo in 2018 and was a founding member of the SEO department at NisonCo where he manages clients in the cannabis, CBD, and psychedelic space. With the skills that he honed at his previous jobs on Wall St. he strives to find the best and most efficient solutions and get his clients ranked. Tony has worked with industry leaders such as Ascend Wellness, Dr. Dabber, and Coda Signature. When not working on SEO accounts, you can find him playing with his 3 puppies, at the gym with his wife or gaming.

Raquel Heras, PR Account Manager. Raquel began her career in PR at NisonCo in 2015 and joined the team full-time in 2019. Raquel completed her B.A. in Political Science from the University at Albany. She has been advocating for drug policy reform since 2014 when she founded and led the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapter at the University of Albany. Raquel has experience working with a wide variety of companies and has helped garner media coverage in mainstream outlets including, New York Times, Forbes, MarketWatch, Washington Post, and numerous cannabis trade publications.

Colten, Cannabis SEO Account Manager
Colten Koch, SEO Account Manager Colten serves as an SEO Account Manager at NisonCo and manages our ever growing cannabis, CBD, hemp, and psychedelic SEO client base. Colten got an early start in affiliate marketing at the age of 17 when he was hired to help with SEO at a tech startup before going on to work for multiple companies in a wide variety of industries. Colten cares about helping cannabis and CBD companies with SEO, and gets a thrill out of watching his clients increase their search rank and brand presence online. Currently based on the east side of Washington state, Colten is focused on honing his digital marketing and SEO skills even further. When he is not working, he has a passion for music production ranging from Alternative Rock to Hip Hop, and is an avid producer, guitarist, and drummer.

Marisa Martinez, Manager of Financial Services. Marisa joined NisonCo in 2020 and holds a dual BSBA in Accounting and HR/Organizational Management, as well as a Senior Professional in HR designation awarded by the HRCI. With over 10 years of experience in helping organizations in diverse industries refine their core processes, she leverages that knowledge to maximize her contribution to what happens “behind the scenes” in support of the organizations’ mission and goals. Her expertise helps keep NisonCo running smoothly and efficiently. In her career she is most proud of co-founding a nonprofit school for children with developmental disabilities in 2010 and remains a committed and passionate advocate. While her personal passions are diverse and travel usually keeps her busy, she enjoys everything outdoors, taking the time out for yoga practice and spending time with her family.

Marisa Rincon, Business Development Coordinator. Marisa joined the NisonCo team in 2019. She has a B.A. in Business Administration with emphases in Marketing and Operations Management from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Marisa started in the cannabis industry via a college internship and fell in love with the passion and dedication of the community. She comes from a strong branding strategy and digital marketing background and enjoys applying that knowledge to her business development role. When she’s not working, you’ll find her walking her taking pictures of her pup, cooking, going to concerts and breaking it down on a dance floor.

Marissa Smith, Managing Editor. Marissa joined the NisonCo team in 2019 in the capacity of research and blog / ghostwriter extraordinaire. She graduated from Ithaca College in 2014 with a BA in English Literature, a Marketing minor and a Classical Studies minor with the focus in Latin.

While in school, Marissa worked in various editorial capacities for The Ithacan, one of the most-awarded weekly collegiate periodicals in the country. Working as a Chief Copy Editor, Chief Proofreader and Sales Manager (sometimes concurrently) for the publication helped fuel her rigorous attention to detail, proven ability to deliver with a tight deadline, and knowledge of various writing strategies. Her senior year, she became the founding Editor-in-Chief of ZoetIC, a yearly anthology published by Sigma Tau Delta, the international English studies honor society.

Marissa’s professional work has been dedicated to operations management for various local food establishments in the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts, where she instills order and plays with food along the way.

Marissa’s penchant for language, marketing and words has driven her focused dive into cannabis SEO blogging strategy with NisonCo when she’s not up to her neck in locally produced food. She’s honored to work alongside a seasoned and impassioned cannabis PR, marketing, and SEO team who care about social justice and industry accountability.


Brian Sonenstein, Pitching Director. Brian Sonenstein joined NisonCo in 2015. He manages our pitching team, which includes overseeing media trend discovery and legislative tracking. He also runs NisonCo’s pro bono PR program to provide media assistance to grassroots organizations and companies engaged in advocacy work.

Brian has worked at the intersection of media and advocacy since 2009. He was the associate publisher and director of advocacy at the political website Firedoglake.com, where he worked on and managed the Just Say Now marijuana legalization campaign. Just Say Now garnered over 2.5 million followers and helped engage and register thousands of voters on cannabis legalization and medical marijuana campaigns in states including California (Prop 19), Colorado (Amendment 64), Washington (Initiative 502), and Oregon (Measure 91). Brian’s organizing work goes beyond drug policy reform. For example, he organized jail support for whistleblowers Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou. He also raised over $200,000 to send necessary equipment to Occupy Movement protesters, and raised thousands to send independent journalists to cover critical events like Julian Assange’s extradition hearings in London and the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He is a co-founder and editor of Shadowproof.com, a reader-supported news outlet, where he reports on incarceration. He is also a co-host of the Beyond Prisons podcast: a political education resource for the prison abolition movement, which was named one of the top 10 Anti-Racist Podcasts of 2020 by Elle Magazine.


Lucas Wentworth, PR Account Manager. Lucas Wentworth joined the team at NisonCo in 2018 as a pitcher before getting his first client in 2019. He comes from a strong background in professional writing, editing, social media marketing, and strategic communications. Lucas lives in Buffalo, New York where he is involved in the Western New York chapter of NORML volunteering in media relations and as an event promoter. In addition to his passion for cannabis legalization and equity, Lucas is an advocate for harm reduction education. He regularly volunteers to do street outreach with a community group in Buffalo called Mobile Overdose Prevention Services passing out narcan and offering demos. He has been involved in lobbying for the Good Samaritan Law to be taught in all public high schools in the NYS, as well as for drug decriminalization in the state. When not working, Lucas enjoys playing with his cats, learning German, and practicing zazen.

Wilfred Waimiri, PR Account Coordinator. Wilfred joined Nisonco in April 2021, and is a member of Nisonco’s PR team. He holds a Bachelors in Economics and Finance from the Kenyatta University and briefly worked as a sports journalist at Absolute Sports Limited.

He has extensive experience guiding educational and marketing initiatives for cannabis companies. Wilfred got his start in cannabis as the lead writer and editor for Every CBD Thing, a website dedicated to educating consumers on everything CBD and cannabis. Through his educational efforts, Wilfred has gotten to interact with and learn from some of the brightest minds in cannabis including Ethan Russo.

Wilfred is constantly working to change attitudes on cannabis in his home country, Kenya.